Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer's legacy

As wickedly dangerous weather smothers and destroys the infrastructure of a large swath of the US, it might be worth revisiting the stop-motion short film about Rudolph's red nose and the controversy his specialness caused to give folks stuck in their homes another Christmas theme to talk about.

Why did the other reindeer in Rudolph's life make fun of him, berate him, call him names, bully him, and ostracize him from the group? What role did Santa play in grooming the bullies? Why were the reindeer so mean? Where did they learn how to bully?

Rudolph was unique and different, with the uniqueness that may have scared all the average homogenized colonial reindeer's idea of their sense of self.

And then suddenly, there's some snow and sleet, and Rudolph is the hero. Did they take care of Rudolph afterward? What was life like for Rudolph later?  Did he forgive the bullies and the name-calling, and the ostracization? Did Rudolph have trauma? Did he go to therapy? Or did he learn to be a bully too? Was there ever any reconciliation? Restorative justice? Transformative justice?

You may have already guessed there is a book about all of this: " by George Giuliani, a Special Education professor at Long Island University in New York.

"The whole community of the North Pole is into exclusion, not inclusion. You even have an island of misfit toys. The word 'misfit' is used 27 times," pointed out Giuliani, who admits he's never been a fan of the Rudolph story ever since hearing the Christmas carol at age 14 and thinking, "What an awful song this is."

Psychologist Paul Friday takes a different view: "I think the idea that you can take something as innocent and as nice as "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and pull some kind of psychological or sociological pathology and place it on there – I think this guy has too much time on his hands."

The origins of Rudolph, his red nose, and the bullying story are a consequence of a Montgomery Ward copywriter, according to Mike Mashon from the Library of Congress blog. "In 1939, Robert L. May was given the assignment of coming up with a Christmas-themed giveaway that would replace the coloring books the retail giant usually gave its junior customers. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the Ugly Duckling, May's story of Rudolph and his shiny red nose was a phenomenal hit with over 2.5 million booklets distributed in the first year alone."

Before the TV special stop-animation that many people grew up with, Rudolph made his screen debut in 1948, when "the Jam Handy Organization–a Detroit-based producer of some fine promotional and educational films (Master Hands, their balletic 1936 automotive assembly line short, is on the National Film Registry)–copyrighted a cartoon version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to be shown in theaters as yet more advertising for Montgomery Ward; legendary animator Max Fleischer directed."

The Library of Congress has a digital copy you can view here.

The second point I'm thinking about Rudolph as I gather with family and friends is that Rudolph was invented to sell products for Montgomery Ward. As the Hip-Hop duo reminds us in the 2012 joint "No Way as the Way." "Some say that's sacrilegious/Same folks selling us lies about Christmas/Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny/Just so the capitalists can make money/They say God will take care of it/But you a terrorist if you say the same thing in Arabic." provides information from various government agencies on bullying, cyberbullying, prevention and response.